CHANDIGARH: The overgrown, wire-fenced forest in Sectors 39 and 40 has turned into a dumping zone and home to poisonous insects, snakes, rodents, and criminals.
For its long, wild grass and unkempt trees, the forest department and the municipal corporation blame each other. Earlier the MC was confused about the maintenance responsibilities but now it is inactive despite being aware that the land is part of its jurisdiction. Last monsoon, one of the snakes lurking in this grass killed a girl aged 5, but the civic authorities have not cleared the undergrowth this year as well. The forest‘s resident insects and big rats have free run of the nearby homes, which is scaring people.

On August 7, the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations of Chandigarh (Foswac) took this issue to mayor Davesh Moudgil and he promised to get all the forestland from Sector 39 to 47 cleared of extra grass.

The department concerned is yet to get into action. The forest separates city from the satellite town of Mohali. Sector 40C MIG-I houses welfare association president Dilbagh Singh said: “For years, both forest department and the municipal corporation have been aware of our problem and giving us empty assurances of solving it.”

Association general secretary S K Khosla said: “Almost a year ago, we proposed to the forest department that it should landscape the unattended forest, lay a footpath inside, and develop a children‘s playground there. The forest department officials who visited the site said the project was unfeasible, since the land belonged to the MC and its development was the latter‘s duty.”

Residents say this green patch is a hideout of criminals at night because of its location on the Mohali border. “It has become unsafe for neighbourhood women to venture out after dark because a snatcher or a molester might jump out of the forest,” said a resident. Welfare association joint secretary M R Bhatia said: “All the complaints to the civic body were in vain.”

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